More than 90 percent of Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) drivers have indicated they would take the Dragon Boat Festival holiday off on June 3 to protest a plan by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to corporatize the railway agency, the Taiwan Railway Labor Union said yesterday.
The announcement sets the stage for a second strike by TRA workers during an important holiday, after the union held a strike that ground the nation’s largest railway system to a halt on International Workers’ Day on May 1.
The plan to transform the railway agency into a state-run corporation was proposed after a Taroko Express train derailed in Hualien County on April 2, killing 49 people and injuring 213.
Photo: Chen Hsin-yu, Taipei Times
A draft state-run Taiwan railways corporation act on April 21 secured preliminary approval from lawmakers on the legislature’s Transportation Committee following a four-hour deliberation.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and opposition lawmakers were yesterday scheduled to hold a second meeting to negotiate an amendment to the Railway Act (鐵路法) and one-third of the articles in the draft act, over which lawmakers have yet to reach a consensus.
The meeting was expected to help move the draft act closer to its second and third readings at the legislature, in which the DPP has an absolute majority.
Of the 1,400 TRA drivers, 1,348 have seconded the union’s motion to take June 3 off, union secretary-general Wu Chang-chih (吳長智) said, adding that the rest of the drivers are in home isolation or have yet to indicate their intentions.
“Five of the 11 train drivers who worked on May 1 have said that they will skip work this time, as they feel bad about defying the union’s action,” Wu said. “If the other six drivers work this time, fewer than 10 train services will be available on June 3.”
Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) was scheduled to meet with union representatives on Friday last week to talk over the issues about the draft act.
However, the meeting was canceled as Wang needed to be isolated at home after one of his family members contracted COVID-19. Instead, Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Allen Hu (胡湘麟) met with union representatives yesterday.
“The DPP should be blamed for the strike, because the party is set to deliver the draft act for final approval at the legislature without negotiating with the union,” Wang said.
The union also threatened to go on strike during the Mid-Autumn Festival in September, the Double Ten National Day in October and the nine-in-one elections in November.
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